Several staff members from NASW’s national office, along with NASW members and social work students from the University of Alabama School of Social Work and George Mason University, rallied outside the U.S. Supreme Court in February to support a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.
NASW joined 20 other national organizations in the rally to raise awareness and support for keeping Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act intact. The court heard oral arguments Feb. 27 in Shelby County, Alabama v. Eric Holder. The case is an attempt by Shelby County to greatly modify or eliminate Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
NASW is advocating that Section 5 must remain in place, because it requires states with histories of voter discrimination and voter suppression to receive approval from the attorney general’s office before modifying their voting procedures and voter eligibility.
According to NASW’s advocacy alert about the rally, social workers Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young Jr. were driving forces behind the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
NASW, through its Legal Defense Fund, also filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the case as a member of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. The brief states that Section 5 continues to play a critical role in encouraging states to safeguard the interest of minority voters.
“If Section 5 were not in place, there is a substantial risk that many covered jurisdictions would implement discriminatory practices that would erode the gains that minority voters have made sense 1965,” the brief notes.
The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on the case later this year.